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Texas teacher called student n-word and stepped on them, lawsuit alleges

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A guidance counselor is suing a school district in Grand Prairie, Texas, alleging that she was forced to resign after reporting an incident in which a teacher is claimed to have used a racial slur to refer to a child with special needs and physically assaulted them.

In a lawsuit filed in a district court in Dallas County on August 17, an attorney for Gabriana Clay-White wrote that she reported the alleged incident to the school and Child Protective Services, as she was required to do under the state’s family law code.

However, the lawsuit alleges that on June 2, 2022, the plaintiff was told by the Grand Prairie Independent School District’s human resources department that she had violated an ethics code and could resign or have her employment terminated. It said she “resigned under duress” to “protect herself.”

A spokesperson for the school district told Newsweek on Wednesday that it had not been formally notified of the lawsuit, but stressed that the incident had been investigated both internally and by Child Protective Services and was “considered resolved.”

Stock upset school child
A stock image shows a young boy sitting alone looking distressed at school. A lawsuit in Texas alleges a young child with special needs was called a “dumb n****” by his teacher.
Getty Images

Newsweek approached Jack Walters, Clay-White’s attorney, via email for comment on Wednesday.

According to the lawsuit, on May 18 last year, Clay-White had been assisting an unnamed teacher with a student with special needs, who referred to the teacher as “dumb.” It alleged that the teacher then approached the student and responded: “Oh, I’m dumb?” before pulling a chair from underneath the child.

The teacher is then alleged to have referred to the child as a “dumb n****” who “can’t read,” which the court document said was a reference to the child’s specific learning difficulties.

The lawsuit claimed that the teacher proceeded to pull the chair from under the child again, which caused Clay-White to stand between the two and tell the teacher she was removing the child from the classroom.

While leaving the room, the pupil was said to have yelled at the teacher, who then “made an advance at the student.” The lawsuit said that the child “swung first but the plaintiff was able to stop him from hitting the teacher.”

“The student then fell to the ground and the teacher put her boot on the student’s chest and pushed down,” it claimed, adding Clay-White “had to remove the teacher’s foot off the child’s chest.”

Clay-White is suing the school district for between $250,000 and $1 million over a loss of pay, mental anguish and legal fees.

The lawsuit claims that by forcing the counsellor to resign for reporting the matter to Child Protective Services, the school district violated a part of the Texas Family Code, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees reporting such incidents.

It states that this includes any action “that affects an employee’s compensation, promotion, transfer, work assignment, or performance evaluation, or any other employment action that would dissuade a reasonable employee from making or supporting a report of abuse or neglect.”

Newsweek approached the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, of which the state’s Child Protective Services is a part, via email for comment on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Grand Prairie Independent School District told Newsweek: “At this time, GPISD has not been officially notified of a potential lawsuit filed by a former employee of the district. As a matter of policy, the district does not comment on personnel matters, or issues pertaining to employment.

“We can confirm any allegation of misconduct by teachers in our classrooms is taken seriously, investigated fully, and followed by the appropriate action if necessary.”

They added that “this incident was fully investigated internally and by CPS and the matter is considered resolved.”

The lawsuit does not name the school in which the incident is alleged to have occurred, however, other members of staff mentioned in the court documents were at the time working at David Daniels Elementary Academy of Math and Science. The school district did not confirm the location of the alleged incident.

Grand Prairie is a suburban city adjoining Dallas to the east and Fort Worth to the west.

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